Eurovision is more than a song contest: it’s a chance to hear Ukraine’s rallying cry

In 2010, I competed in the Eurovision song contest as Alyosha, representing Ukraine. My song, Sweet People, was about war, ego and finding the political will to save our planet. It feels more relevant now than ever.

Since the conflict broke out, I see the world differently and Eurovision has taken on new meaning. It’s not just a night of frivolity any more, and fans aren’t just music fans – their support means so much more this year.

I’ve been living in New Jersey with my three children and mother-in-law since we fled Kyiv in March. In the blur of the evacuation, I forget exactly when we arrived but my life here is a world away from what my husband, parents, brothers and their families are still experiencing in Ukraine. They are doing everything they can to fight for freedom back home, and I’m doing my best to play my part here: attending charity events and trying to raise money and awareness any way I can, while I take care of my kids. Being a busy working mother continues even in these abnormal circumstances.

Eurovision this year is just another way to spread the message that freedom for Ukraine is freedom for all of us. As a singer, I’ve always found that music speaks to people’s hearts and souls in a way that politicians can’t. To see this year’s act, Kalush Orchestra, on the world stage flying the flag for Ukraine will be a very powerful moment. The group have said they “represent every Ukrainian”, which comforts me. They will stand for all of us when the lights go up.

Their song, Stefania, has become an anthem back home. The track was originally written about frontman Oleh Psiuk’s mother, but it has since taken on new meaning for many. The group have been granted special permission to travel to Turin for the contest, but will return to Ukraine after competing “to provide [their] contribution”. That’s typical of the Ukrainian resolve and fighting spirit in the face of huge adversity. I hope viewers will see that.

CONTINUE @ THE GUARDIAN

Watch: Alyosha – Sweet People

Watch: Stefania

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